Jewels of Survival

I went away to nurse my wounds and grind fresh salt for the next skirmish. Before I began my journey, I packed a little bag with some literally light reading material; after all my wounds are fairly superficial, worthy of only a daytrip really.

At the park, sitting amongst old men napping their Ramadan away, I reached for my loaded pen and ancient–but effective weaponry—my journal. My hand pulled out some pearls instead.

Keep yourself busy in remembering your faults, so that you have not time left to remember the faults of others. ~Imam Sufyaan ath-Thawri

My pre-emptive strike was immediately canceled. I read on “Know that people who have been hurt sometimes hurt others in return because they do not know any better,” from Jewels of Survival. I can never say enough about choosing one’s companions wisely, and I shouldn’t have to because Allah already told us so. My beloved friend Aaminah handmade this quirky-looking little zine, well—really only quirky if you are unfamiliar with zines—and she filled it with so much hikmah (wisdom) and baraka (blessing), masha Allah. And as generous sister would, within the pretty pages she reminded me to busy myself with bettering myself.

I didn’t make a list of all the wrongs done unto me, as I had planned. Instead I, tentatively, began a list of my own faults. And I realized that one of my worst is that I often mistake my faults for my attributes.

Jewels for Survival, illuminated with lustrous “Poetry, Essays, Short Fiction, etc.” is available through thaura zine distro. They also have other zines, stickers and even free publications available through the site. None have been filtered down through the process of mainstream publishing and marketing. All authentic voices, all the time — alhumdiAllah!

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The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

You know how people are often off around The Holidays? You know. Emotional, depressed, anxious. Domestic violence occurrences increase, suicides increase, all around violence and stress increase. Well. Based on my completely unscientific observations this past week, I think converts may have some of this offness, residual like. This past week I’ve seen some of my friends being a little jumpy, emotional and anxious. Not just anxious about filling their pantries. I think some of us converts may have some residue there.

The good news is – I think it subsides when Ramadan actually starts. I’m kind of remembering some of this from years past and although Ramadan may stress some of us out in other ways – I don’t remember any of my friends being off the same during Ramadan. Maybe because the essence of the holiday is so markedly different than the celebrations most of us grew up with it doesn’t sustain the same emotions of yonder years. In dealing with holiday depression and stress, Mental Health America suggests “Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.” Yep.

Whatever was there for me these past few days – alhumdiAllah — it’s gone. Lets’ do this! Insha Allah.

Love and Peace

Hate it with My Hand

Listen. I’m shouting it from my desktop. I HATE THE OBSESSION WITH PROCURING, PREPARING AND GLUTTONOUS EATING OF COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF FOOD THAT HAPPENS DURING THE BLESSED MONTH OF FASTING. It’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s wrong. And you know it too. I hate it with my heart. My tongue. And my hand.

Loved and Lost: For Julie, Thanks Julie

One of the few conversations I can pantomime fairly well here in Morocco goes something like, “How many children do you have? I have five. Mine are this and that many years. How old are yours? Mine are so and so and so and so. What are their names? ” When I first came to Morocco in 2002 I was surprised, the first few times, that women would include how many children they “lost.” It is still unclear to me if the women mean specifically stillborn and/or miscarriages. I have asked my Moroccan friend and she is not entirely sure either. It may vary from woman to woman. But each woman who has told me, has done so matter-of-factly, almost with a sense of not quite pride, but defiantly not the kind of near whispered remorseful tones in which we discuss these things in the US.

Americans generally do not discuss these things with near strangers. Many of us don’t even share the news of our pregnancy until we feel secure that it will “take” and still don’t readily discuss if it didn’t. There seem to be a societal taboo around talking about miscarriage, infant mortality and maybe even the loss of older children. When I was a teen a friend in my circle died and his mother actually lost friends during the first year of her bereavement. People just couldn’t “deal with her.” She ended up spending a lot of time with her son’s friends because we were able to openly grieve and accept each other’s bereavement.

And many, many women throughout the world experience miscarriage, yet it is still so taboo to talk about in the states that many women don’t even know that it has happened to them. I now know that I have had at least one early miscarriage, but at the time had no idea what that was. I have often wondered about the mothers who so easily shared their losses with me, why do they tell people? What is it in this culture that makes it so acceptable, even encouraged to discuss? I’m not sure, but in Islam it is believed that children or babies who have died may assist their parent(s) in their own path to paradise:

Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) quotes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, “If any Muslim has three children and they die prior to the age of puberty, Allah will cause him to enter Paradise on account of his being patient over them.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari) *read more here*

So, again, I’m not sure if these are almost like bragging rights, but I do know that when my fourth child was born I was thankful to have had several women so openly tell me about their losses. I prefer to homebirth my children and was very upset to have to have a cesarean. I went through a myriad of emotions, but the one thing that kept coming to the forefront of my mind was all the women I knew who had lost children and how I would, of course, do anything to prevent that as well as to prevent my own children from losing their mama. I am also thankful to those mamas who in someway have helped to expand my ability to view and discuss mamahood and womanhood.

I have five kids, plus two who I miscarried.